Justin Spring made a strong case for a spot on the 2008 Olympic Team at today's competition.
June 21, 2008
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - Former Illinois great Justin Spring did all he could to make the 2008 Olympic Team with another strong performance Saturday afternoon on the second day of the U.S. Men's Gymnastics Olympic Trials held at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pa. Two individuals - Paul Hamm and Jonathan Horton - were named to the team on Saturday, while the other four spots along with three alternates will be selected on Sunday.
"After Thursday's performance, there were some things that I wanted to improve on for today and I came out tonight and put it all out there and did all I could do," Spring said. "It was a great day of competition for me and now all I can do is wait for the selection committee to make their tough decision."
Spring started off on the still rings with a solid 14.950, which tied for sixth on the day and was his highest score on the event over the four days of competition. He then moved to the vault where he matched his performance from Thursday with an impressive 16.050, which was the fourth best score of the afternoon.
Spring then rotated to his two signature events, the parallel bars - where he is the reigning U.S. Champion, and the high bar -- an event that he is a two-time national champion. Spring didn't disappoint the Philadelphia fans, bringing them to their feet with an electrifying parallel bars set for a 15.550, which was good enough for third place tie on the day, and turned in another high-flying high bar set for a 15.100, which was third best on the afternoon.
Floor exercise was the final event of the day for Spring and he turned in another 15.200, matching his score from Thursday night's competition. Saturday's routine, which was the third best of the day, was only Spring's second floor exercise in the last two months, with the first coming on the first day of the Olympic Trials.
"Justin did a great job out there tonight," Illinois associate head coach and Spring's personal coach Jon Valdez said. "I couldn't be more proud of him. He did everything he possibly could by hitting 10-for-10 in the two days of competition. He did something special out there today."
Selection to the Olympic team is based on performance at the Olympic Trials as well as the 2008 Visa U.S, Championships, which were held May 22-24. The men's selection procedures specify that the top two all-arounders after Trials (40% USAs + 60% Trials) earn Olympic spots if they also finish in the top three on at least three events. No one met those criteria, meaning a committee will select the entire team.
Combined scores over all four days of competition from the Visa Championships and Olympic Trials put Spring in first place on parallel bars, second on vault, third on high bar and seventh on rings. He did not compete floor at the Visa Championships, but his average of 15.200 from his two floor performances at the Olympic Trials would have placed him in third place on the event.